Kennedy and Boyd

Cloud Cuckoo Land
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By Mitchison, Naomi. Edited and with an Introduction by Isobel Murray.
ISBN 1849210349
SERIES The Naomi Mitchison Library
Paperback  106 pages
Subject [Fiction ]
Published 14 January 2011
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Ancient Greek history and politics fascinated Naomi Mitchison, and in particular the long antagonism or rivalry of Athens and Sparta. In this, her second novel, she investigates the two city states through Alxenor, a young man from the tiny island of Poieessa, which changes hands as the balance of power changes. He does not choose his loyalty in a theoretical way, but as he experiences rough treatment from both. By Alxenor's day, Athens had declined from the golden age of Perikles, and the city was prone to bully smaller entities, but he is forced to recognise the much worse reality of Spartan civilisation, with iron discipline, cruelty and loss of individuality. Eventually, Mitchison came to see even the twentieth century in terms of struggles between Athens and Sparta, democracy and totalitarianism.

Isobel Murray is Emeritus Professor of Modern Scottish Literature at the University of Aberdeen.

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